Kauai Coffee vs Landfill Site

SUBHEAD: Could anyone view Kauai Coffee as a high-value product if it is grown around a landfill? Welcome sign in front of Kauai Coffee Museum and Gift Shop in Numila. From http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g60615-d664454-Kauai_Coffee_Company-Kalaheo_Kauai_Hawaii.html By Michael Levine on 19 November 2009 in The Garden Island - (http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2009/11/19/news/kauai_news/doc4b04e8577add2061002140.txt) As the county moves forward with plans to construct a new landfill on a Kalaheo property currently in agricultural production, Kaua‘i Coffee Company this week renewed its objections to the proposal in advance of an important community meeting. “From a branded food product to treating solid waste is so incongruent as to being impossible to understand,” Kaua‘i Coffee Company President Wayne Katayama said Tuesday at his office, calling the idea “mind-boggling,” “illogical” and “inconceivable.” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in August pegged Kalaheo’s 127-acre “Umi” site for the new landfill, opting to not stray from the recommendations of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Landfill Site Selection, comprised of community members from across Kaua‘i, which ranked the site first among seven landfill options. Katayama said that in addition to the 127 acres that would become the new landfill, up to another 100 acres could be necessary to serve as a buffer to protect the coffee crops from “fugitive trash” and up to another 100 acres could be pulled out of production because they will be cut off from infrastructure like roads and water by the placement of the landfill. Long-term plants that have had decades to develop flavor characteristics will be torn out and replaced by new plants that take seven years to reach harvesting age. “Much like wine, the more mature the tree, the more complex the beans are,” Katayama said. “To ruin 20-year-old trees is criminal.” In addition to the potential loss of 300 acres — approximately 10 percent of the land currently in coffee production — placing a landfill about a mile away from the company’s visitor and sales center will jeopardize the entire operation by undermining the company’s image, Katayama said. “Hawaiian agriculture traditionally cannot compete at a commodity price basis. The way Hawaiian agriculture can survive is by creating value,” he said. “A lot of this business is based on credibility. ... How would people view this as a high-value product when it is grown around a landfill?" “If we have to compete as a green bean coffee operation, we are going to go the way of the other plantations,” he said, referencing struggles in sugarcane, pineapple and macadamia. “To saddle (the company) with trying to overcome the image of a landfill to me is an unreasonable tax on an agricultural operation.” Katayama criticized the mayor’s advisory committee’s finding that placing a landfill at the Umi site would not displace any businesses and also highlighted the importance of landowner Alexander & Baldwin’s designation of 3,773 acres as Important Agricultural Land on Kaua‘i. A&B Community Relations Manager Linda Howe said Wednesday that A&B filed a petition in December 2008, and the state Land Use Commission approved that petition in March 2009, making the property the first in the state to earn the IAL designation. Beth Tokioka, the mayor’s executive assistant, said Wednesday that the ranking and scoring of potential sites was completed in December 2008, before the IAL designation became official, but acknowledged that the advisory committee held its last meeting in April, after the designation had been accepted, and the final report was provided to Carvalho in May. He made his position official in August. “The mayor did consider the IAL designation prior to recommending the Umi site, and he has every expectation that it will continue to be considered during the EIS process,” Tokioka wrote in a Wednesday evening e-mail. “However, it is still unclear if it will prevent the site’s use as a landfill. Our understanding is that the state Land Use Commission will have the final say as to whether or not a landfill may be sited on IAL.” The county’s recently kicked-off IAL study — which will take into account eight different criteria outlined in state law — will not produce results until 2011. Katayama bristled at the notion that A&B’s voluntary IAL designation — which allows the company concessions like tax credits, loan guarantees and expedited regulatory processing — is somehow less than fully legitimate. “We have met that test in the eyes of the LUC,” he said in reference to the eight criteria, adding that the designation “will preserve a core group of farmable land.” Community meeting A public information meeting regarding the landfill siting process is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Kalaheo Elementary School cafeteria, a county press release states. The meeting will feature a “comprehensive look at the landfill siting process,” including the results of the ranking process and the next steps in siting the new landfill. Following a presentation by consultant R.M. Towill, there will be a question-and-answer period to identify pertinent environmental issues that should be considered in preparation for the project’s environmental impact statement. Tokioka said Wednesday that a rumor floating around that the meeting is “secretly a scoping meeting” and would be the only opportunity for community members to officially testify for the EIS is untrue. While comments tonight “are valid and should be considered” in the EIS, the formal process has not yet begun and there will be other scoping meetings and other opportunities for community members to voice their concerns, Tokioka said. There will be another community meeting on December 16th, she said. Those two meetings are “above and beyond” what the mayor is required to do by law, she added. Carvalho and Tokioka will be joined by County Engineer Donald Fujimoto as well as Environmental Services Management Engineer Troy Tanigawa and Solid Waste Program Development Coordinator Allison Fraley, Tokioka said. Katayama, who said the response from the Carvalho administration to Kaua‘i Coffee’s concerns has thus far been “sterile,” said he plans to attend the meeting with other Kaua‘i Coffee personnel. Both the county government and Kaua‘i Coffee sent direct mailings to Kalaheo residents explaining their positions in advance of the meeting. For more information on the mayor’s recommendation, visit www.kauai.gov/newlandfillsite. For more information on Kaua‘i Coffee Company, visit www.kauaicoffee.com.

1 comment :

Mauibrad said...

Loved the letter to the editor, "Kauai Landfill Coffee." Oh yeah, that'll market well. Can't believe Carvalho and Tokioka didn't first check to see if A&B wanted to sell the land.